By Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani
It is harvest time, where farmers all over the country harvest their crops. Some have already harvested the early maturing varieties of crops, while others are counting days to commence harvesting, or at least have started preparations for the harvesting of Agricultural produce after toiling, expending funds, and hoping of getting bumper harvest as a reward for everything.
It is an akin experience in Nigerian politics, where navigating through the political minefields entail passing the energy-sapping, complex, and rough terrains before reaching the point of achieving one’s political aspirations in Africa’s biggest democracy. It presents all the drudgery involved with manual farming and requires all the technical know-how needed to deliver the immaculate service of mechanised farming.
On Saturday, October 16, 2021, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the governing party of Nigeria conducted their state congress in most states of the country, having done the same thing at ward and local government levels all over the country earlier. The main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also went to the poll in a few of the states they were yet to elect their state executives elections namely: Adamawa, Kwara, Oyo, etc.
It was a hectic weekend. One that lived to its billing in most parts of the country. Postponements, cancellations, parallel congresses, declaration of winners, and the blatant gloating by those who purportedly won the elections in both parties, especially the APC which held congresses in more states. The APC state congress had to be called off in Taraba State to avert a grave security challenge that might have occurred, with the avalanche of thugs armed to the teeth and with their assumed battle-tested amulets, charms, etc, seen a few days to the day of the state congress in Jalingo. A decision I applauded whoever had a hand in it.
Parallel congresses held in so many states: Akwa Ibom, Kano, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, etc. Ogun is one state I guessed few would be astonished to learn that this happened. As there was no love lost between the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor Senator Ibinkule Amosun. The DSS shielding the President caught in the midst of the two divergent political interests, at the last Presidential campaign rally in Abeokuta is still fresh in our minds. It was least anticipated that they won’t do anything to assert who truly holds the ace in Ogun politics.
In Kano where the good and hard-working people of Kano have always prided themselves to eclipse whatever anyone comes with to the ancient and historical state. It indeed aptly lived up to that. As the people of Kano would always say, ‘Siyasar Kano Sai Dan Kano,’ which loosely translated as, the politics of Kano only a person from Kano would comprehend. Hence, I do solemnly affirm that this is not an attempt to stamp my expertise in Kano politics or anywhere, but a patriotic layman’s endeavour to effect changes in the weighty challenge to our democracy posed by parallel congresses across the country, which undermines it.
Parallel Congresses are colossal drawbacks to our internal democracy, which remains the basis of our external democracy. Both intra-party and inter-party democracy proceed to build a good nation when well nurtured. Unfortunately, it is the alternative to development that the harvest of these parallel congresses will reap for the people in dire need of development. What a sad reality for the brilliant and shrewd populace of Africa’s biggest economy.
We have seen these parallel Congresses across parties in Nigeria. It is not condemned to one party in Nigeria, though it is more prominent in the two parties with the highest members in Nigeria if at all we can determine genuine card-carrying members: APC and PDP. This clearly shows that these are the parties with the biggest stakes. Thus, the reason for ‘the battle for the soul of the party’. It points to the fact that drastic measures have to be taken to effectively address the conundrum. I must state that it is only a conundrum because there aren’t strong laws that strictly sanction those who engage in holding parallel congresses and other actions which we view to be less significant but have severe consequences on our democracy.
With the consequences already in the centre of commerce, Kano: reforms are long overdue. All our institutions have to be strengthened to checkmate the far-reaching implications to our democracy, which Nigerian power craving elite go beyond the limit set by our laws or cash in where it is silent on weighty issues. Legislation should be enacted in such a way that gives no room for parallel congresses. For having parallel Congress anywhere is an obvious admission of failure of our institutions, especially our laws of which the parties are products.
There can’t be two leaders of a single party at the same. Then why is it becoming more fashionable by every period of congress in the two major parties in Nigeria? Given that politicians are motivated by their ambitions, but would it still maintain its lure, if stiff punishments are in place for anyone whose actions lead to having parallel congress and other anomalies that belittle our democracy? It is highly unlikely.
All in all, injustice, greed, weak laws, disregard for standard and proper practice, and lack of stiff punishment among other issues are at the centre of its all. Therefore, when some people who believe they are or are rightly the leaders of a party based on the party’s constitution deny others a fair shot at achieving their ambitions and the authorities back then. Then it is bound to persuade them to seek whatever means to actualise their ambitions, especially when they are certain about the gross inadequacies of our institutions. Being fully aware that hardly would the offenders be penalised. They resort to whatever would lead them to success. This is a damning indictment of our system, institutions, and a sad commentary on our democracy. This has to change to a democratic nation that is firmly built on standards and strong institutions that are deeply rooted in conventional democratic practices.
Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani wrote from Turaki B, Jalingo, Taraba State.